202205 Reproductive Scientist Development Program (RSDP)

​Program seeks Council approval for an initiative titled “Reproductive Scientist Development Program (RSDP).” The purpose of the RSDP is to provide career development support for obstetricians and gynecologists who have completed their clinical training and are committed to a career conducting basic science research in an academic setting. The RSDP, located at laboratories of nationally recognized scientific leaders across the U.S., serves as a national network of mentors and scholars. The program provides a mentored training experience leading to the transition of diverse junior faculty into independent productive physician scientists in areas related to obstetrics and gynecology (ob-gyn) and related subspecialties. Areas of interests covered by the program are broadly defined, with emphasis in cell and molecular biology as applied to problems in ob-gyn. 

The goal of the RSDP, a national program launched in 1988, is to develop a cadre of physician-scientists based in academic departments who could employ cutting-edge cell, molecular and genetic technologies to address important problems in ob-gyn and related subspecialties.  The mentored research experiences assist junior faculty to transition to productive, independent clinician-scientists who are highly competitive for research funding. A goal for this funding opportunity is for researchers from diverse backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and women to participate as mentors and scholars.

Since its inception, over 112 clinical fellows ("scholars") have participated in the RSDP, over a broad range of ob/gyn subspecialties. Approximately 75% of the scholars have applied for research grants, with half receiving at least one grant award.  Moreover, 80% of former scholars remained in faculty or research-related positions, and many currently hold leadership positions at academic institutions.

The RSDP is distinct from other national career development programs in that scholar career development is done in two phases.  In Phase I, a scholar identifies a sponsor (usually a department chairperson) and a world-class mentor(s) at a U.S.-based institution of their choice.  During this phase, the scholar conducts cutting-edge basic research in cellular/molecular biology, genetics, etc.  Following this intensive research experience, the scholar enters Phase II and assumes a junior faculty position, usually in the sponsoring department.  During Phase II, the scholar spends at least 75% of their effort in mentored laboratory research with the remaining time being spent in teaching or clinical service.  It is during this phase that the scholar attempts to establish an independent research program by applying for extramural grant support generally through the NIH.  The structure of the RSDP includes an RSDP Selection Committee that reviews applications for Phase I and II and makes recommendations to the PD/PI of the program.  Additionally, an RSDP Evaluation Committee performs reviews of scholars at the end of their Phase I experience and when issues arise.

This program is designed to increase the pipeline of basic translational researchers who will contribute to the scientific mission of NICHD through discovery and application of scientific advances to obstetrics, gynecology, and women's health.

This concept aligns with the NICHD Strategic Plan 2020 and facilitates training and development of an inclusive and diverse scientific workforce.

Program Contact

Esther Eisenberg
Fertility and Infertility Branch (FI)


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